Why Do Older Gamers Play Games?

Ulric | 9 October 2009 | Comments off

I find myself having to defend or explain myself when I tell people that at my age, I still play games. Most people think that the answers to a seemingly straightforward question are easy. I say that they are not really straightforward. We often want to play one game today, and another one tomorrow. We may want to play games alone or with others. I think that the reasons why we play video games are a complex interaction of factors that contribute to us wanting to play.

Why do we play games? We’ve heard it before, but it’s usually rhetoric for people trying to ban or regulate games. No more Tipper Gore please. What these people think the reason is and what we know the reason is are totally opposite.

Here are some reasons that I play video games:

Social Activity - Either directly, or by means of having a common experience to share with others while socializing. It is in most human’s nature to interact with others. See my other article on MMORPGs Friendship and Geeks as to why games are a great media for social interaction.

Emotion - There are many games that can inspire the very same feelings that a movie or TV show or a book can inspire. Fear, excitement, grief, pity and anger are all feelings that video games can potentially produce and that is a cool. It’s like reading and writing a story at the same time. While you write the store (playing the game) you are reading the story (seeing the outcome) and depending on the outcome, an emotion is triggered. Combine that idea with the sensation of using a mouse, keyboard and a poker site you have a very interesting phenomenon. Wink Wink!

Humor - Many games are simply fun to experience. Take ganking in MMO’s. While to some it is a waste of time, or a PITA, to others at times it is fun. I hate it happening to me, but in turn, I also enjoy doing it. So I guess that also does bring a small about of conflict, but to me that is the hilarious part because it makes me sit back and just laugh at myself. Oh, and don’t forget the jumping. Jumping just has to happen. Play a game where you have the ability to jump and see how long you can go without doing it without any reason.

Escaping My Reality – Sometimes I desire to distance myself from my reality. For example, I’ll take a random character with no name or relevance to real life and give them a background and character. I’ll color in their blackness and give them real depth, worries, emotions and laughter.

Proving Myself - By either competing against myself or against others. This provides me with self-satisfaction. This in turn causes physical reactions. See The Physical Effects below.

Therapy - Many games can provide therapeutic benefits. For me, it is simply the camaraderie I require after a long day of work, and for some games it may be a game that deals with something important to me. Like drinking BEER!

The Physical Effects - This is the only scientific aspect that I will mention. A lot of us enjoy the reward of doing a good job when playing games. The reward for this achievement is the release of dopamine from the pleasure center of the brain. Another way to trip the pleasure center is by causing excitement. This excitement releases adrenaline. Imagine your fight or flight experience that you may have had during game play. I myself have to admit that this feeling of being excited gives me a feeling of success, thus triggering the adrenalin and in turn giving me a greater sense of reward. Yeh yeh, those of you here that know me were thinking something about a stiffy would be mentioned. Nah, that is in another forum.

Conclusion - I guess now with everything online, I also look forward to playing with different people all around the globe and having new experiences. Even though it’s the same game, it’s always something new when you play with random people.

Playing games has allowed me to reclaim my life from the sheltered, dark basement of depression and create some memorable memories of my own. Some I have heard a lot about gamers losing friends, girl(boy)friends and reality at the hands of video games; but I can also attest that there are many as well for those who have gained perspective, been inspired to follow their dreams, and dared to take some chances in life. A good example is that playing games has rekindled my desire to go back to college for a degree in graphic arts. Without seeing the sweet graphics of Age of Conan for example, I probably would have never thought about it again.

I have faith that games will eventually be seen as much more than just toys if we can move past preconceptions about them and start to appreciate their value as tools that help us learn, have fun, and stay in touch with our human side.

Article by WiredSolaris

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